Last week, the Bureau of Land Management held its final hearings on the proposed rule to curtail methane waste. This rule would limit venting, flaring, and leaks of methane (the primary component of natural gas) during oil and gas development on public and tribal lands. The message they heard was clear and overwhelming: it’s time to take action about natural gas waste on public lands.
Folks from across the West and from all walks of life—farmers, ranchers, veterans, sportsmen, and sportswomen—said this rule is not only welcomed, but long overdue. Speakers who supported the BLM rule outnumbered opponents at each stop. Here’s how:
New Mexico: Supporters speaking in favor of the rule outnumbered the opposition by 2-1; even though oil and gas companies paid to bus their workers to the hearing, paid their wages for the day, and even paid for their lunches.
Oklahoma: Even in Big Oil’s backyard, opponents to the rule were outnumbered by 3-1. Although a smaller crowd attended, the message was still clear – the American public in and around Oklahoma City supports the BLM’s efforts to be fiscally and socially responsible when it comes to methane waste on public lands.
Colorado: Support for the rule clocked in at 6-1. In 2014, Colorado enacted state rules limiting methane venting and flaring from oil and gas production, and not without cries from industry. Interestingly, these rules created an entirely new industry focusing on capturing methane waste, which has created jobs and has contributed to Colorado’s strong economic outlook for the oil and gas sector despite falling oil prices and additional regulations— putting to bed many of industry’s arguments.
North Dakota: BLM’s last hearing was held in Dickinson, North Dakota: ground zero for the Bakken oil boom. Supporters of the rule outnumbered industry voices by 4-1. And this hearing hit close to home for many people. Native Americans, farmers, ranchers, and mineral lease holders spoke to the direct impacts of methane waste. Members of the Fort Berthold community showed images of grass fires that started from flaring sites, told of high rates of asthma and cancers in the community, and recounted the story of a local Native woman who froze to death in her home because she could not afford heat – while well sites nearby burned off “excess” natural gas.
At each hearing, spanning four different states across the West, Americans of all races, creeds, vocations, locations, and ages spoke – now it’s time for the BLM to listen.